Ask her to pose for a selfie, she would do it with a thousand-watt smile that won the hearts of lakhs of people in Alathur. Remya Haridas has a reason for it. “I’ve tried to click photos with our favourite film stars and leaders. It’s disappointing when you can’t. I know how people feel if we deny them a selfie opportunity. I don’t want it to happen.”
Braving controversies and criticisms, Remya emerged as the lone woman MP from Kerala at the hustings. Excerpts from a chat with Express staff correspondent Gopika Varrier
Q: Did you expect victory with a majority of over 1 lakh?
A: It was evident from the response of the people during the time of campaigning that they wanted me to win this election. When the results came out, it seems the love they had for me was more than what I expected. It was an unexpected margin and I am overwhelmed by it.
Q: Deepa Nishant’s criticism over your election campaign by singing songs and Vijayaraghavan’s remarks were debated throughout the election. Do you think it helped in winning this election against two-time MP P K Biju?
A: The people of Alathur supported me well amidst the controversies. It is evident they never fell for such false propaganda. I don’t have anything more to say about it. The results say it all.
Q: Kerala Women’s Commission Chairperson M C Josephine said you responded without understanding the facts with regard to Vijayaraghavan’s remarks. What’s your comment?
A: The Kerala Women’s Commission is an independent body that works for the welfare of women and addresses their issues. People expect them to act without any bias. It is high time the commission does a self-introspection. If the commission had plans to take up the case, they would have asked me, recorded my statement as per norms, which they haven’t done.
Q: You had taken a stand against the entry of women into Sabarimala temple. As a young woman, why did you take a stand that favours the tradition?
A: I got the aspect of belief from my grandmother. I want to follow the tradition passed on to me by my parents. I am a devotee of Lord Ayyappa. I’ve always wanted to visit the temple but I’ll do it only when I attain the right age. Until then, I’ll visit any Ayyappa temple. In my opinion, women have so many other things to challenge than hurting religious sentiments in the name of gender equality.
Q: In your journey from block panchayat president of Kunnamangalam to Alathur MP, have you faced any challenges, especially as a woman?
A: To be honest, rather than challenges, I am a person who looks at opportunities. When you get an opportunity, make the most out of it. There is no point in talking about challenges without using the chances you get.
Q: You are the second woman MP who belongs to SC/ST category from Kerala. How do you plan to address the issues of your community?
A: There is so much to be done - from potable water issues to educational requirements. I will see to it that the basic needs of the people will be addressed.
Q: What are your development plans for Alathur?
A: A majority of the people depend on farming in Alathur. You can see vast paddy fields and vegetable farmers here. All of them need help in one way or other. Similarly, the constituency has a number of Scheduled Castes. The tribal colonies lack basic amenities. An action plan will be chalked out to address their issues. I’m planning to have a project to empower women.
Q: Single at 32. Any plans for marriage now that you’ve won a seat to Parliament?
A: As of now, I don’t have any family goals. I want to serve the people who voted for me. If I get a partner who understands my desire to serve the public, well... There are no proposals of that sort so far.